When we think of Type 2 Diabetes, we assume that it is a condition that is exclusive to individuals who are middle-aged. But did you know that Type 2 Diabetes can also occur in children? In this article, we will discuss the causes of Type 2 Diabetes in children, the signs to watch out for, and how to manage it effectively.
- What is Type 2 Diabetes?
- Causes of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Symptoms and Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Potential Complications of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
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What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder where your body is unable to utilize insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in your pancreas that helps your cells take in the glucose (sugar) present in your bloodstream. In Type 2 Diabetes, your cells and tissues become insulin resistant, i.e. they are unable to respond to the insulin present in your body, which leads to high blood glucose levels.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The exact cause of Type 2 Diabetes in children is unclear, but it is closely linked to being overweight or obese and having a family history of Type 2 Diabetes. Being overweight can lead to insulin resistance, which causes Type 2 Diabetes.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The following are the risk factors associated with Type 2 Diabetes in children.
Being overweight or obese can increase your child’s risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. More specifically, having too much fat in the abdominal area can decrease insulin sensitivity in the body, which can cause Type 2 Diabetes.
Having an unhealthy diet that is loaded with empty carbs, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats can raise your child’s blood sugar levels, which can cause an increase in weight, along with their chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Lack of physical activity
Exercise or any physical activity can help your child’s body utilize the glucose present in their bloodstream along with the glucose stored in their muscles and liver. This lowers their blood sugar levels and helps their body in burning fat. A lack of physical activity leads to excess blood glucose being converted to fat, which can cause weight gain and increase insulin resistance in your child’s body.
Having close family members like parents, grandparents, or siblings who have Type 2 Diabetes can increase your child’s risk of developing this condition.
Gestational diabetes in the mother
Being born to a mother who had gestational diabetes can make your child more prone to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in children or teens may be mild or unnoticeable at first. However, the following symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes may develop over time:
Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Appropriate and timely diagnosis plays a crucial role in the management of diabetes in kids. Diagnosis may include tests such as:
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) Test
This test helps determine your child’s average blood glucose levels for the past 2 to 3 months. Having an HbA1c level of 6.5 % or higher is considered a diagnostic criterion for diabetes.
Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) Test
This test measures your child’s blood sugar levels after fasting for at least 8 hours. A blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or higher indicates that your child may have diabetes.
Random Blood Sugar (RBS) Test
This test is done at any time regardless of when your child had their last meal. A blood glucose level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates that your child may have diabetes.
Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in children is similar to the treatment of diabetes in adults. The treatment approaches might include a combination of the following:
- A healthy and balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Losing excess weight
- Frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels
- Oral medications/ insulin injections
Potential Complications of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Children with Type 2 Diabetes might be at risk of developing complications such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, depression, eating disorders, etc. Serious complications that may occur later in life due to uncontrolled blood glucose levels include:
These complications can be prevented or delayed with treatment and maintaining normal blood glucose levels.
Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder that can be prevented by maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. It can be prevented in children with the following measures:
- Being physically active and exercising regularly
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Learning to manage stress
- Getting quality sleep